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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  July 23, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT

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on the broadcast tonight the suspect. today we got our first look at him and it was striking and unsettling. tonight the people of aurora, colorado and the rest of the world get a first look at the man accused of one of the worst mass murders in u.s. history as the stories of heroism and bravery and courage continue to pour in. the punishment for penn state after the sandusky scandal and the entire community tt's paying the price. countdown to london. four days to go. is london ready for the olympics or not? getting burned. they showed up for an inspirational seminar with tony robbins but some of them got burned when it came time for the ritual walk across the hot coals leaving a lot of people to wonder, how does that work anyway? and ground breaker. the first american woman in i space has died. tonight we remember sally ride.
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space has died. tonight we remember sally ride. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. the people of aurora, colorado today got to see the man they regard as the face of evil. the suspect in the mass shooting in colorado was let into court for a preliminary appearance today and seeing him was both striking and haunting. at various times his constantly changing facial expressions showed what might have been sadness, surprise, exhaustion, contentment, anger, confusion. many people thought he looked heavily medicated, sitting in court with the red hair dye apparently intended to mimic a character in the movie, which will now forever be associated with what happened during the midnight premiere in a denver suburb. the death toll remains at 12. 23 of the wounded remain hospitalized tonight. 11 of them critical. we begin our reporting this
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evening with nbc's mike taibbi, who was in the courtroom this morning. mike, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. it was an expectant even tense atmosphere in court today though this was a brief procedure. you could basically hear a pin drop, nobody moving as 9:30 approached. this was as you say the first chance for the public and more importantly the victims' families and victim survivors to get a look at the man who was the sole suspect in one of the worst gun massacres in this country's history. >> call people vs. james holmes. >> reporter: his appearance was bizarre, disengaged, unsettling. the pink/orange hair atop the prison jump suit, lethargic movements, james holmes looking no one in the eye when his eyes were open and reacting in no visible way when the judge told him why he was being held without bond. >> the duty judge made a preliminary determination of probable cause to believe you committed the offense of first-degree murder. >> reporter: a death penalty case though the decision to seek death will only be made after
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prosecutors hear the victims' families want it. >> victims will be impacted by that decision in an enormous way for years if the death penalty is sought. >> reporter: this was a brief, procedural hearing, a gag order limiting the release of information about the case and the reading of the defendant's rights to holmes, himself. >> you have a right to remain silent. >> reporter: the investigation of holmes accelerated saturday when his booby trapped apartment was defused by a controlled detonation. before that, a robotic camera had recorded what was inside -- combat posters, a computer, trip wires, and explosives. nbc's chris hanson viewed some of that tape. >> dozens of black, softball shaped fireworks shells that he bought, filled with explosive powder. they're all over the place. >> reporter: a potential killing field here and a real one at the theater three miles away. the months leading this once aspiring scientist to this grim spotlight were months of change. he had gone from a clean cut, gifted student to a sullen
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recluse who police say bought four guns just like these and went online to buy 6,000 rounds of ammunition, 150 pounds worth, and ballistic combat gear some items as recently as two weeks before the massacre. he tried to join a gun club but never followed up. he dropped out of grad school. no reason given. >> he had officially withdrawn. that withdrawal had not been finally processed. >> reporter: and now in court he was the same mute, unresponsive figure he's been since his arrest. his demeanor perhaps a statement in itself. >> it's a powerful image. we saw james holmes and there is clearly something not right about him. in some ways that could be helpful to the defense. >> reporter: helpful if they choose an insanity defense if he is really insane. >> i have never seen anyone who is able to fake it into an insanity defense. there are very sophisticated tests used and the state hospital is hypersensitive to the issue of are we being played by a defendant here? >> reporter: holmes is back in solitary now in the county jail. his next court appearance next
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monday will be for formal charges against him and then perhaps a month or two after that the formal arraignment at which time he will enter a plea -- guilty, not guilty, or not guilty by reason of insanity. >> mike taibbi starting us off from the courthouse, centennial, colorado tonight. mike, thanks. as we heard families of some of the victims were in that courtroom today. nbc's kate snow has an update on the survivors and more on some of those who lost their lives. kate, good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you, brian. last night there was a huge vigil here, a prayer vigil. thousands of people sang "amazing grace" together united in pain. they're trying to heal together but today many of them took time out to confront their nightmare. david sanchez was supposed to be at a maternity ward this morning awaiting the birth of his grandson. >> we never thought we'd have to be part of something like this. >> reporter: but his pregnant daughter katy asked him to come here instead to be her eyes and see the man who they blame for destroying what should have been
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a joyous time. katy and her husband were huge batman fans. she wouldn't miss opening night even nine months' pregnant. >> they had batman apparel on and had been waiting for this movie for over a year. >> reporter: but now her husband caleb is in a coma and tonight she is in labor at the same hospital. >> when it's your own daughter and she escaped death by just mere seconds i would say it really makes you angry. >> reporter: angiotte mora and his brother-in-law wanted to be at the hospital too. >> i just wanted to see his face. >> the only time he and his wife and son could have family could have movie night was the midnight showing. as they tried to escape they accidently ran toward the shooter. >> i thought there was no chance to get out. i thought i was going to die there. >> reporter: he made it out. even helped carry a man to safety.
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jessica ghawi wasn't so lucky. her friend called jessica's parents from a theater. >> i was awakened by the most horrific scream i've ever heard in my life. i thought somebody was in the house. stabbing my wife in the heart. >> reporter: this air force technician, injured in the hand, believes jesse childress gave his life to save hers. he threw himself in front of her when the shooting began. >> i feel really sorry that he's gone, that none of us were able to at least hold his hand and look him in the eye while he passed. >> reporter: we now know an aurora policewoman stayed with 6-year-old veronica moser sullivan in the chaos. photos of that little first grader have captivated the world, forced parents like cheryl groner to explain the horrific events of that day to her three young children. >> i tried to explain it as easily as i can, but it's really hard because you want to preserve their innocence.
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and things like this, it's difficult. >> reporter: family members of victims who are in an overflow room at the courthouse here today tell us it was intense in there not just because of what they were seeing and the alleged shooter but also there were moments, brian, where things got heated. in fact, the father of the little 6-year-old girl who was lost, he at one point yelled out, demanding justice. brian? >> kate snow, on another awful day in colorado rounding out our coverage. kate, thanks. the other big news of this day, far to the east. the punishment for penn state. the ncaa announced the penalty this morning stemming from the sandusky sexual abuse scandal. and like the rest of this case, there's been nothing like it in the history of college football. we have two reports this evening beginning with our national investigative correspondent michael isikoff. michael, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. the sentence imposed against penn state are unprecedented but justified according to the ncaa president who says they needed
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to, quote, rebuild an athletic culture that went horribly awry. >> football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing, and protecting young people. >> reporter: the school will not appeal unprecedented penalties which include a record $60 million fine, roughly the amount penn state makes on the football program each year, to be used for programs to prevent child sexual abuse. a four-year ban on playing in any bowl games. the loss of 40 scholarships over four years and current players can play elsewhere and vacating all penn state wins from 1998-2011, a devastating blow to the legacy of the late joe paterno. paterno's larger than life statue was removed sunday from the stadium under orders from the university president. today on campus there was shock and even some tears as the ncaa delivered its verdict.
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>> you cannot -- there had to be a punishment. i just didn't think it would be this much i guess. >> the leaders here failed. it's tough to defend. it really is. >> reporter: nbc's bob costas. >> taking away all those scholarships, taking away the bowl opportunity for four years is going to cripple them competitively for at least a decade. there are lots of ways that they can do positive things going forward which they couldn't do if the football program was completely abolished. >> head football coach bill o'brien met with his players after the sanctions were announced. ncaa's president said there are larger lessons to be learned from this scandal about college sports. >> the sports, themselves, can become too big to fail, indeed, too big to even challenge. the result can be an erosion of academic values that are replaced by the value of hero worship and winning at all costs. >> reporter: penn state officials said today the school is entering a new chapter and will demonstrate the highest ethical standards.
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mike the isikoff, nbc news, state college, pennsylvania. this is anne thompson. for decades they profited from the glory of penn state football. now businesses in state college will almost certainly pay a price for the pain. >> these victims, my heart just breaks for them and their families. >> reporter: tammy shuster owns a bed and breakfast 15 minutes from beaver stadium where an average of 101,000 people watched the nittany lions last season. a year ago, every room was sold out for home football games. not this year so far. >> i feel very confident that alumni will still be coming to the games. fans will still be coming. >> reporter: on a home football weekend, state college, population 42,000, mushrooms to the third largest city in the state, making the football team an economic powerhouse for the region. >> a lot of businesses in the area, that's when they make their profit that's going to see
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them through the winter months. so it is crucial. >> reporter: the team accounted for $50 million in direct spending for the county in 2009 according to a study commissioned by the university. the third most valuable program in college football last year now branded with the scarlet letter of scandal. linda is the co-owner of the american ale house. >> used to be able to be proud to say i'm from state college, you know, penn state football. i'm not going to do that much at this point. >> reporter: but with so much money at stake, some wonder if a change in culture is truly possible. a change that critics say must go far beyond state college and penn state. >> i don't see it getting any better. they just announced a college football playoff that's going to be worth upwards of nearly 3/4 of a billion dollars so the money involved is only growing. >> one sports economist i talked
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to said historically when programs are sanctioned sometimes donations to the programs actually go up as loyal alumni and boosters circle the wagon, but given this involved child abuse and not the typical infractions of selling tickets or accepting money, he says it's hard to know what will happen. but, brian, we should find out september 1st when penn state opens against ohio university. >> tonight on the athletic department website there is the countdown to the day game, the first day of the season as if nothing happened. anne thompson, thank you for your reporting. still ahead, as we continue a woman who went where no american woman had ever gone before. we will remember astronaut sally ride. but first, the torch has arrived. the olympic park is ready with four days to go but is london? the olympic park is ready with four days to go but is london? you wouldn't want your doctor doing your job, hello... so why are you doing hers? only your doctor can determine if your persistent heartburn
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touches the olympic park is ready and the folks in charge of security say they are, too. our own stephanie gosk joins us tonight from inside the park for the first time. stephanie, good evening. >> good evening, brian. they've been rehearsing opening ceremonies and you can hear the music from where we are. today government officials met for the first time for a security briefing that will happen every day to ensure the athletes that come here and the people that come here to watch them are safe. today u.s. tennis star and olympian venus williams returned to wimbledon not with a racket but with the torch. across town at the police command and control center robert broadhurst had his eye on the torch, too. he is in charge of 9,000 police officers for the olympics -- on the ground, in the water, and in the air. they are prepared, he says, for any kind of threat. >> the biggest threat of course is terrorism but the likelihood of that is very, very small. >> reporter: more likely an attack on a softer target.
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in a city of more than 8 million people there are a lot of them. there are more than 6,000 buses in london. it would be too time consuming to check everyone's bag and impossible to put a police officer on every bus. that's why they're considered a soft target. an attack on a bus, even small one, would have a huge emotional impact on this city. because it has happened before. seven years ago a home grown terror cell attacked london commuters, killing dozens. for the games, police are backed up by an arsenal of military might including fighter jets, surface-to-air missiles on apartment buildings, and the royal navy's largest ship the hms ocean. the biggest peace time security operation in british history. earlier this month, it hit an obstacle. a security guard shortage at the venues. 3500 british troops are filling the gap. more are on stand by. defense expert michael clark believes it will only make the games safer.
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>> who would you rather be looked after by -- a group of people who are casual employees or cheerful faces, the army and the police? >> reporter: tonight the smiles were there for one of the final dress rehearsals before friday's opening ceremony. officials say the key to successful security here in london will be a balance between peaceful policing on the surface and necessary force hidden below. it's a task they admit is not very easy. brian? >> stephanie gosk in london tonight where we will see you shortly and along those lines just a reminder here. our "nightly news live" coverage from london begins on wednesday and on wednesday on this broadcast an exclusive interview with mitt romney who will be in london as part of a multi nation overseas trip. up next for us tonight, why do some people get burned? the tony robbins inspirational hot coal walk that went bad for a few folks. the medicare debate continues in washington...
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back with a story you may have heard over the weekend almost two dozen people got burned when they did the traditional fire walk over hot coals at the conclusion of a tony robbins sponsored motivational event. others wound up just fine reigniting the old question, how does this all work in the first place? our report tonight from nbc's ron allen. >> reporter: tony robbins has been called the most listened to man in america. the motivator and coach to the rich and famous who helped oprah cross his fire walk over hot coals. >> emotion is what life is. doesn't matter what happens. it's how you feel. >> reporter: at a recent four-day robbins seminar unleash the power within 6,000 people did it. >> the first night we did the fire walk and it was just incredible, life changing experience. >> reporter: it is an ancient ritual practiced for thousands
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of years by cultures around the world as a test of courage and faith. many participants believe it's an exercise of mind over matter. but scientists say it's also a matter of basic physics starting with all the hype to get your blood flowing and your feet sweating. >> all you're trying to do is dissipate the heat so that eventually the coals don't burn the bottoms of your feet and it will really spread that heat out. you can walk right across it. it's just basic science. >> reporter: at the robbins event 21 people suffered second and third-degree burns. in a statement he said, a small number of participants experience pain or minor injuries and sought medical attention, adding he works with fire and emergency personnel to ensure this event is always done in the safest way possible. >> i just told myself that it was something that, you know, i could overcome. >> reporter: henry guash who did the walk says those who did not make it only have themselves to blame. >> they suffered the
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consequences of not believing in themselves. >> reporter: a ritual that's part stunt and science and a whole lot of belief you can do it. ron allen, nbc news, los angeles. up next here tonight, she aimed high. she blazed a trail into orbit. we all watched her do it and cheered her on. remembering sally ride. [ male announcer ] research suggests the health of our cells plays a key role throughout our entire lives. ♪ one a day men's 50+ is a complete multi-vitamin designed for men's health concerns as we age. ♪ it has more of seven antioxidants to support cell health. that's one a day men's 50+ healthy advantage. trouble with a car insurance claim. [ voice of dennis ] switch to allstate. their claim service is so good, now it's guaranteed. [ normal voice ] so i can trust 'em.
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sally ride died today of pancreatic cancer. she was 61 years old, all of that time spent on earth except for 14 days, seven hours, and 46 minutes she spent in space as america's first ever female astronaut. she was a trail blazer, an icon to school children of the generation, and tonight we have a look back with nbc's rehema ellis. >> reporter: sally ride was the first american woman to wear the uniform and make the memorable journey into space. >> america's first woman astronaut. >> reporter: she was trained as a physicist but ride will always be remembered as an astronaut and crew member onboard the space shuttle challenger, almost 30 years ago. >> i think there are a few people that are waiting to see how i do, let me put it that way.
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>> reporter: out of 8,000 who applied for the space program in the late 1970s, she was one of the chosen. even after she left nasa she never gave up on her mission to inspire young people, especially young girls. recently, during nbc's education nation summit ride talked about encouraging women to study science and math. >> maybe most important it's the teachers and the schools holding the high expectations and getting the message to the students, the girls as well as the boys, that we expect you to do well. >> reporter: ride's historic flight captured the nation's imagination and made her a household name. >> sally ride was an extraordinarily intelligent and dedicated person and you could say that about any astronaut. she had to be even more so to get into this exclusively men's club, mostly fighter pilots, very macho culture. >> reporter: sally ride died today at age 61 after a long
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battle with pancreatic cancer. an american hero she became a symbol for everyone and mostly women who strive to break through barriers like she did. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. >> that is our broadcast as we start off a new week. thank you for being with us. i'm brian williams and we hope to see you right back here tomorrow night. good night. i'm barack obama and i approve this message. [romney singing]: oh beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountains majesty, above the fruited plain, america, america, god shed his grace on thee,


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